It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of cracking jokes at the expense of Millennials and Gen Zers.

They’re obsessed with their smartphones!

They change jobs every five minutes!

They’re putting entire industries out of business!

Millennials and Gen Zers

These are just a few of the preconceived notions that seem to dog young consumers today. But by subscribing to stereotypes like these, brands discount an incredibly important segment of our population. Across the globe, there are 1.8 billion Millennials and more than 2 billion members of Generation Z. Combined, they make up a potential $165 billion marketplace.
Knowing how to reach these burgeoning consumers is vital, and it starts with understanding their quirks and preferences, as well as the challenges of targeting them. Here are three of those challenges — and how you can circumvent them.

1. Short Attention Spans

Both Millennials and Gen Zers are mobile-focused generations. According to a study by B2X, a quarter of Millennials spend more than five hours on their smartphones daily. Members of Gen Z share this trait with their older Millennial siblings, but they spend even more time online per day. That said, unless your content is interesting and personalized, these consumers will quickly move onto the next thing. Case in point: Facebook users reportedly spend fewer than 2 seconds with any piece of mobile content on the platform.

To fight diminishing attention spans, consider tapping micro-influencers to create and deploy short, interesting branded content. Your own content should be creative and personalized. Accenture reports that three-quarters of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that recognizes them by name, recommends purchases based on past behavior, and understands their preferences.

2. Privacy Concerns

Be careful, though. Personalization is somewhat of a double-edged sword with these groups. Growing up in our digital reality has taught both Millennials and Gen Zers that their privacy is at stake online — and incidents like the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal validate their concerns. About 50 percent of Millennials have ad-blocking software installed on their devices, and most Gen Zers keep their webcams covered.

Transparency is your best weapon in fighting the creep factor. Never collect consumer data without explicitly explaining how that data will be used — and let individuals know how collecting this data will ultimately help you deliver a better experienceSpotify is one brand that has this down pat. Every year, it releases its much-anticipated “Spotify Wrapped” campaign — an end-of-year event where the brand packages users’ listening data from throughout the year into a personalized playlist.

3. Inauthentic Altruism

Millennials grew up aware of how their actions impact the environment — and they’re committed to doing business with companies that value sustainability. Gen Zers also value social responsibility; they want to connect with brands that take a stand against racial, gender, and income inequality. That said, Millennials and Gen Zers are also extremely adept at detecting posers. When Pepsi released an ad with Kendall Jenner last year, young consumers were especially displeased, accusing the brand of trivializing an important social justice issue.

When inserting your brand into a social, political, or economic discussion, ensure it makes sense for your business model. For example, a floss company with a campaign built around the #MeToo movement may fall flat. But a fair-trade coffee brand advocating for increased fair-trade standards will most likely resonate with consumers.

Targeting Generations Y and Z is no longer an option — it’s a requirement if brands hope to remain relevant in the coming years. By understanding consumer preferences and challenges, brands can establish better relationships that will stand the test of time.